JAWS leisurely consults his watch, so we do the same: 10: 27 PM. He clearly has a rendezvous with someone and either the person is running late or JAWS is checking to see if he should start leaving for the meeting. Apparently, there’s plenty of time left, for the ex-Commander turns halfway around and summons the waitress who is only too happy to oblige. The waitress departs as JAWS re-opens his newspaper. She returns momentarily, balancing what appears to be a muffin and another cup of coffee.
‘Do you think he knows he’s being watched?’ Johnny probes.
I have been wondering the same thing, to be honest.
‘I don’t think so,’ I say. ‘He’s not looking to see if we’re still here, or anything like that.’
‘He could be pretending not to see us.’
‘I suppose so.’
We sip our coffee silently. Johnny has sprinkled cassava crumbs all over his seat and floor mat. He’s so sloppy, he should change his name to ‘Sloppy Joe.’ Even in primary school, Johnny was pure id: so self-indulgent it must have made the angels weep. He never bothered with books and often came out last (what the teachers referred to as ‘holding the tail’) in the end-of-term results. You will therefore appreciate the irony in the fact that he was once caught red-handed stealing books from the Staff Room! He had done it on a dare but what surprised me was his nerve. Those were the days when we gave wide berth to teachers’ haunts. A pupil robbing the Staff Room was like a cat burglar breaking into a police station. To give the devil his due, Johnny excelled in field and track events and was very popular with girls. He was (and still is) one big, strong, son-of-a-gun. I understand that he became something of a local celebrity when he played rugby for his high school team.
‘So how’s married life treating you?’ Johnny says, interrupting my flashback.
‘It’s cool,’ I reply laconically.
‘Are you sure? ’Cause it sounds too claustrophobic for me. I mean, being in the house with the same woman day after day after day. Having to put up with all her yapping and mood swings and whatnot…Not you, of course – you’re married to one hot chick. I mean, Georgeanne doesn’t even have a gluteus maximus – she has a glorious maximus.’
It was actually a compliment - gluteus maximus being the Latin word for one’s backside – but I didn’t appreciate Johnny talking about my wife in a sexual way. This guy has no internal
censor; he just says the first thing that comes to his mind.
‘I don’t think marriage will ever be an option for me,’ Johnny continues to rant. ‘I don’t even like the idea of being engaged. Think of what that word means. Engaged. It’s no coincidence that it’s the same word used by the military to mean “prepared for battle” as in, “I engaged my rifle and ordered the sniper to drop his weapon.” ’
Johnny laughs aloud at his own joke but I just continue peering through the windscreen and listening to the parking lot’s noise signature: cars arriving or pulling away, doors being slammed, an alarm going off, keys jingling, a drunk vomiting on the tarmac...
'Kiss, Commander, Promise' is available in e-book and paperback formats at Amazon and Lulu.com respectively.